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21 November, 2017

Mixed Up: A Book Review and Holiday Gift Idea

Comments : 1 Posted in : Beverage, Cocktail Recipes, Liqueurs, Product Reviews, Spirits on by : The Gourmez

mixed up nick mamatas molly tanzer gift cocktail

I just finished Mixed Up: Cocktail Recipes (and Flash Fiction) for the Discerning Drinker (and Reader), which is a little black book full of exactly what it says on the label. How often can us spirit lovers say that?

This book would make a thoughtful gift for the cocktail lovers in your life, as it is chockful of recipes and introductions to classic cocktails that every true drinker should already love and would appreciate learning more about. It’s also full of tales that really get why so many of us love cocktail culture: the camaraderie and tenuous connections that a truly well-made cocktail can engender.

mixed up, apple cider magarita, redwood room, clift hotel

A truly well-made apple cider margarita I just sampled at the Redwood Room.

The stories are short, running three to seven pages, just enough for a sipper straw’s pinch of each writer’s style. Nick Mamatas curated the fiction, using a bartender’s skill to portion out the right mix of science fiction, literary fiction, and madcap zest. All readers will find something to love in this eclectic collection.

Mamatas’s “The End of the End of History” is my favorite in the book, and I’m not saying that just because I know he’s reading this (Hi, Nick!). It’s because the absurdity of Vladimir Putin invading a NYC house party so he can weigh in on the worthiness of vodka for martinis is just plain fun.

I also highly recommend the twist-garnished “Bloody at Mazie’s Joint” by Benjamin Percy – though don’t order the special! The elegance of of beauty and old friendship juxtaposed with small acts of violence aches in Selena Chamber’s “An Arrangement in Juniper and Champagne.” Carmen Maria Machado’s “There and Back Again” effectively uses horror to interrogate the idea that we always have a choice to make, even in the confined space of hunger and revenge.

Drink editor Molly Tanzer pairs a history and recipe for a classic cocktail or punch with each story.

mixed up cocktails fiction

Mmm…spiked punch.

Sometimes, she pairs two of them! Her authorial voice grants leeway for experimentation in some cases and not in others, which is representative of my own struggles with absolutism and relativism when it comes to cocktail perfection. Regardless of your thoughts on the issue, you’ll find her instructions easy to follow, and her guide to an essential bar set-up helpful in its practicality.

There’s plenty to ponder in Mixed Up, but it’s also suitable for slurping fast, just as its readers are encouraged to consume cold cocktails in the opening pages.

Go on. Give it a stir.

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